Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Peach State Brew Off Results

Checked online this morning as I have the past couple of days, I'm so impatient, and the results for the 17th Annual PSBO are in. As expected none of my entries placed. I can't wait to get the results back to see what the judges feedback looks like.

I'll venture a guess at where my 3 biers fell short.
1-Hefeweizen - Only 30 something percent wheat, too high ferm. temps, too estery. This was an attempted clone so I knew these were flaws/potential flaws.
2-Wood Aged Brown Ale - Overcarbed, otherwise a very nice bier, we'll see what the judges say.
3-Specialty OB/APA/IPA - Fine bier, but not a brew that'll pull off a good showing in a category with all types of over the top style interpretations.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Froo Froo Beer Drink

Bier appreciation can be about accepting things as they are and judging them as such. It can also be about thinking totally different when it comes to bier. For instance most people have never thought of bier mixed drinks with the exception of bier with liquor as in an Irish Car Bomb. Yet bier is a great medium to explore as you would a punch or lighter summer styled drinks. After all one of the advantages the average bier has is it's relatively low alcohol. By taking something hovering around 4-5% abv and thinning it with a non-alcoholic liquid such as juice in an amount of 10-25% or more it becomes easier to imbibe without overdoing. Plus when working with an already fairly un-bitter and quite fruity ale like a Bavarian Hefe or Belgian Wit it's a natural fit to make mixed fruit drinks. The video below was done on a whim while I was trying to RDWHAHB during a recent brew day. The application of such a method would seem to be quite extensive with the use of watermelon, strawberries, berry medleys, etc.

I hope you enjoy the rather simple video below and are motivated to try a mixed bier of a different kind soon!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Competition Update & More

I received a mass email from the organizer of the Peach State Brew Off today. Seems this competition is a good bit larger than I first thought. Through earlier emails I had learned the competition was expecting 400-430 entries. Well they saw a big jump in entries this year. 582 entries was the final count, 582! I aint got a prayer! Apparently this makes this year's edition of the PSBO the 75th largest homebrew competition ever in the US, the 45th largest regional competition.

I'm currently working on a short video of a fruit drink I made using the Explication wheat ale. Also I've got baby chicks hatching and will probably post up a few pics on them and perhaps an article on farm life. Might be nice to catalog my little homestead!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Small Batch Parti-gyle

So all-grain brewing is a mystery... too complicated... takes to much equipment or perhaps you're confused about how a parti-gyle brew session works. Not so fast my friend! In the video I demonstrate just how easy counter top all-grain brewing can be. I purposefully skipped being too detailed in the how and exactly why of what is going on in the video because that information is available in spades across the net.

Also this is intended as entertainment as much as it is informative. Hopefully it's at least a minor success in both regards.

What you need to know, this is my first parti-gyle brew of any size. I read Randy Mosher's informative article available here, Click Here The three tables Randy provides are extremely helpful as they address several areas one needs to address when attempting a split batch/parti-gyle estimating O.G., estimated extract, & estimated color.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Beers of the SEC

While reading an online post ascribing characteristics of a certain bier to a certain person I thought, why not apply the analogy to the world of sports? Of course the world of sports for me starts with the Southeastern Conference, particularly football, let's be honest only football.

So if each school were a bier, which bier style would they be, and what's the best commercial example to ascribe to each school? Here are the biers of the SEC in alphabetical order.

Alabama - The Tide needs a bier with staying power that can withstand the test of time. They also need a bier steeped in tradition yet thoroughly modern and in vogue. Wow this is a hard choice between a BIG bold barleywine and an age old yet thoroughly modern classic like a Trappist ale. Not being able to decide I'm going with Alabama as the Russian Imperial Stout of SEC football, dark and imposing. Commercial example - Ten Fidy or Oak Aged Yeti.

Arkansas - Woo Pig Sooie! Along with South Carolina the Razorbacks are the newest addition to the SEC, yet they have a long history of athletic success on the gridiron and beyond. Arkansas is best described as competitive, entertaining, and withstanding the test of time fairly well. Thusly Arkansas is something of an entertaining quaffable ale, perhaps they're best described as a tasty Brown ale. Best commercial example is possibly Turbodog.

Auburn - The Tigers deserve something fitting of their status as a strong program with lots of star power, think Bo Jackson one of collegiate athletics all-time greats. Given the current editions failures on defense and creative prowess on offense I think the Tigers would best be described as a Belgian Pale Ale. Commercial example - Pranqster.

Florida - With brash Gator-Chomp in tow, the Gator faithful stand behind their team. Something of a johnny-come-lately in SEC athletics, they've certainly made a statement! Bold & fresh are what come to mind when I think of Florida so I equate them to a big bitter spicy India Pale Ale. Commercial example - Racer 5 or Hop Rod Rye.

Georgia - With Heisman winners Frank Sinkwich & Herschel Walker being among the south's favorite sons the Dawgs have produced some memories over the years. Much like LSU, capable but rarely living up to the possibilities this is still an enjoyable team to pull for. Filled with complexity and entertainment the Bulldogs are absolutely a bier deserving of respect but left grasping for truly elite status. They are a Dopplebock. Commercial example - Paulaner Salvator.

Kentucky - One of the best coaching jobs in the business of late has been done by Rich Brooks, and I respect that! Yet this is the university that could have had Paul Bryant & Adolph Rupp as it's coaching legends but decided to give one a new car and the other a cigarette lighter. Curious move indeed. Watching the Wildcats in a good year is medicine for the soul as the perpetual underdogs continually impress with their level of good fundamental play. Kentucky is the Wit Beer of SEC football, straight forward with just a hint of spice. Of course this makes the Wildcats a Hoegaarden.

Louisiana State - The mirror image of Georgia, only with much more success of late due to the resurrection performed by Nick Saban and Co. One of the all-time classic college football clips is Heisman winner Billy Cannons long weaving touchdown run in the mud against a top flight Ole Miss team. Much like that run the atmosphere before a game outside the stadium is also legendary in college football circles. Anything to do with the Bayou Bengals needs to have bold flavors yet a smoothness to go with good cuisine. LSU is the Porter of the SEC, dark and robust! Commercial example - Anchor Porter or Fuller's London Pride.

Mississippi - The team with a good history that has done little in the modern era. Sadly that's a fitting description for the Rebels. On the bright side, or dim depending on how you want to look at it, Ole Miss fans like to brag, 'we may lose the game but we never lose a party!' Great attitude for the party, not so much for athletics. The beer that best fits Ole Miss is probably an easy drinking Scottish Ale, Scotch ale's smaller less complex yet more versatile brother. Besides a St. Andrews cross fits right in at an Ole Miss game! Commercial example - Pyramid's Tilted Kilt.

Mississippi State - Depending on your perspective the Bulldogs are arguably the most sickly program in the SEC, Vanderbilt being the main competition. But that's not to say they are without merit or unworth of being considered for a quaffable ale! MSU is like an American Dark Lager, mild flavors not quite interesting and quaffable. Commercial example - Leinenkugels Creamy Dark.

South Carolina - The team with the best fan support for such a mediocre program. Sure there's been a bright spot or two, but producing a consistent winner at South Carolina has proven to be tougher than a box of nails. The good news is that few fan bases pack out the stadium year after year after year after year after each year is considered a failure. Gotta love persistence and can-do attitude so the Gamecocks are the mixed bag of the sports world just like California Common AKA Steam beer. Commercial example - Anchor Steam

Tennessee - How many times do you have to watch a Tennessee game before you know that Rocky Top is gonna blare with the most marginal of accomplishments, ONCE is the answer. Given the perpetual playing of Rocky Top, running out of the T, and the checked endzones the Volunteers are one of the most recognizable teams in collegiate athletics. That doesn't even mention their particular shade of orange which is surprisingly close to hunters orange. Recognizable, long lasting, and historic are terms one could use to describe Tennessee or an English Barleywine. Commercial example - Anchor Old Foghorn.

Vanderbilt - I typically save the best for last, not today! Undoubtedly the most failure prone program in the long history of the SEC. Sure they were a fine team way back in the leather helmet day, but if asked what have you done for me lately the answer would return, "mostly nothing". With passion matched by a church mouse the fan base is sometimes outnumbered in their own stadium. Now I like most find it easy to root for the Commodores when they're not playing my team. There can be only one antidote for the wine sippers in Nashville, Malt Liquor! Commercial example - Three Floyds Dolemite.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Competition Time

Earlier today I shipped my entries to the Peach State Brew Off. I had 3 entries:
Category 15A Weizen - Entered my recently brewed Explication hefe brewed with T-58
Prospects: I expect it'll be judged as too fruity for style, too high a fermentation temp.
Category 22C Wood-Aged - Entered 15 month old Northern English Brown wood-aged with hand selected & cured Hickory wood spiced with Bourbon.
Prospects: I feel best about this beer's flavor profile, but it's terribly over-carbed, otherwise it has a shot.
Category 23 Specialty Beer - Entered a 4 month old First Wort Hopped multi-styled ale. Ordinary Bitter strength (3.2% abv), Am. Pale Ale grain bill, and IPA bitterness (70+ smooth IBUs).
Prospects: Have no idea how this one will fair. It's a solid flavorful offering, depends on how the judges approach it.

I have no idea of exactly how large the competition is. However my entries were issued a number 1096-1098. I'm doubting this is a competition with over 1000 entries thus I'm guessing I'm entering biers 96-98. If this is true I'm guessing the competition will have less than 200 entrants, possibly substantially fewer. The cost is $7 per entry thus my cost are as follows:
$7 x 3 = $21 + $9.60 Shipping = $30.60 Competition cost
Plus cost of each bier at $.60 x 6 = $3.60 + $30.60 = $34.20 Total cost

Being honest I'm hoping to do well, but considering this is my first competition I have NO idea of what to expect. No matter the results it's pretty exciting!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Motherland Imperial Stout early tasting

This was taken on my birthday as just a first sample of the Motherland Imperial Stout from below. The apple flavor I mentioned isn't an acetaldehyde flavor but rather a young beer flavor, I suspect from the priming sugar. Overall this bier should age well and round into a beautiful elixir of the soul! Overall it's very well bittered yet malty the way a good RIS should be. It's a split between an Am. vs Eng. version of this bier probably leaning more toward English.

My next RIS attempt will have 2-4% more roasted malt to bump up that character substantially and a clean American ale yeast with prominent C-hop character. Just go in a different direction for the experience of it!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Explication Wheat Ale

My home state of Mississippi has just one micro brewery in the whole state. They are a brave lot and do well with what they have to work with, meaning a very bier illiterate state. Perhaps bier culture or lack there of is a subject for another blog entry, but for now on to the subject of this entry. Lazy Magnolia is the name of the brewery and my favorite bier they produced was a Krystalweizen named Blue Heron. I used the past tense because it is a now discontinued product, lost in the streamlining of their offering a few years back. Again reference the lack of bier culture in MS as the culprit of many of Lazy Magnolia's more flavorful offerings were among those discontinued.

What's a bier lover to do when one of your favorite brews is no longer available? Make it yourself of course! My attempt at cloning this fine krystalweizen, currently ranked as the 2nd best krystalweizen in the world on Ratebeer.com, was set in motion on a visit to the brewery last fall. I asked and the brewer gladly shared what yeast they used to ferment the bier. Blue Heron is best discribed as a maltier more banana forward version of a fresh Paulaners, only filtered for clarity.

The recipe is as follows, yes it's this simple!
6 lb 11 oz Marris Otter Pale Malt
4 lb Wheat Malt
4 oz Aromatic Malt.

.6 oz. Tradition @ 60 mins
.2 oz. Tradition @ 5 mins

Mash at 130 degrees farenheit for 30 minutes.
Raise the mash to 152-153 for 30 minutes.

I had an original gravity of 1.056 (I believe)
Make sure to include extra fining agents in the boil and or secondary and make plans to lager the bier to aid in clarity.
Voila almost instant krystalweizen.

The bier is still bottle conditioning so I don't have a final verdict, but the early returns are pretty good. Did I mention you let this bier ferment at it's own pace. The brewer said they let it go as high as 80-85, YIKES! My fermentation was at ambient temps and reached as high as 80-81 degrees briefly. My first impressions are that I've at the very least ballparked Blue Heron. Mine is certainly banana heavy but there is some nice clove and spice underpinning. Here's a video I made showing the making of the bier and a few pics of the first sample. Note the video is wrong on the amount of wheat malt, I actually used 4 lbs as in the recipe above.

This is a brief video I put together from photos of the brew day.

Explication FG 1.011

Final gravity was 1.011, very drinkable brew that continues to impress. Clear!!!

Explication sample

Another pic showing the clarity/color. It's a solid 4 srm and clear, not quite brilliant.

Of course I have to share the label with you as well. I've been wanting to do something a bit more elegant for a while and this seemed the perfect opportunity.


Motherland Imperial Stout

I brewed up my first Russian Imperial Stout bier this past December, 12-10-09 to be exact. I brewed up about 4.5 gallons including the yeast cake I dumped the bier onto. When it was all said and done the brew yielded about 3.5 gallons of finished bier. I let the bier sit in primary for 8 weeks, no worries about autolysis here! At the 8 week mark I bottled 1/3rd of the batch as 'standard'. I moved the other 2-2.5 gallons to secondary where they sat for 4-5 weeks on whiskey soaked hickory chips. That's not a misprint, I used Hickory! Screw French oak... I'm southern give me the hickory! Maybe I'll run through that process on here sometime, but for now all you need to know is that I hand selected the wood, gave it a quick dip in boiling water, rinsed, toasted, & soaked in whiskey!

That brings me to this past weekend where I bottled the 'wood aged' RIS. Since the bier was extremely clear I decided to re-pitch a little yeast, about 1/4 pack. Also of note is that I bottled half of the 'wood aged' bier and added about 12 oz. of strongly brewed Kona coffee to the remaining 1+ gallon and bottled it. Thus I got 3 different biers out of this one brew which is always exciting!

Here is the recipe with accurate numbers etc.

Malt & Fermentables
71% 9 8 British Pale (Maris Otter) 37 3
8% 1 0 Molasses 36 80 (Note I used 12 oz. Molasses & 4 oz. Steens Pure Cane Syrup)
7% 0 14 British Crystal 95-115L 33 105 (Actually used my homemade crystal malt)
5% 0 10 Roasted Barley (Thomas Fawcett) 34 559
3% 0 6 Pale Chocolate Malt 34 165
2% 0 4 Flaked Wheat 34 2
2% 0 4 American Black Patent 26 500
2% 0 4 American Crystal 60L 34 60
1% 0 3 American Chocolate 34 127
Total 13 5

Batch size: 4.5 gallons
Boil: 6.25 avg gallons for 90 minutes
Original Gravity 1.090 (1.082 to 1.095)
Final Gravity 1.021 (1.023 to 1.029)
Color 46° SRM (Black)
Mash Efficiency 84%

Boil 90/FWH 0.6 Nugget pellet 13.0
Boil 20 mins 1.5 Cluster pellet 5.9
Boil 20 mins 1.0 Amarillo pellet 7.5

Bitterness 73.5 IBU
BU:GU - 0.80

Yeast - Windsor Ale Dry Yeast

Alcohol 9 % A.B.V.
Calories 302 per 12 oz.

boil 15 min 1 Whirlfloc Tablet

My mash schedule was along the lines of 146 degrees farenheit for 75 minutes and 155 for 30 minutes with a standard mash-out. The early tasting results are that the bier is substantially malty sweet, fairly strong bitter/dark chocolate tones, mild coffee, hints of caramel & toffee, with black currant & stone fruit perhaps a bit of fig. While it is yet young it is showing substantial promise for my first 'big' bier.

As always I enjoy building labels for my brews, particularly those that have some meaning or significance to me as a brewer. Obviously crafting a bier that I plan on having bottles of around for 2-4 years is an occasion to celebrate. Below is the finalized label for Motherland. Note the boxes in the bottom right hand corner. I will check the appropriate box denoting which version of the bier each bottle is.
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